Double Cropping Field Peas Offer Economic Sustainability for Midwest Swine Producers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $109,651.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jim Fawcett
Iowa State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans, wheat
  • Vegetables: peas (culinary)
  • Animals: swine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: crop rotation, double cropping
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance
  • Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting
  • Production Systems: general crop production


    Field peas are an excellent substitute for corn and soybean meal in swine diets. Inclusion rates up to 30% have shown no difference in average daily gain or feed efficiency. There is a tendency for slightly higher daily intake with field pea diets probably attributable to a higher fiber content of field peas. The limiting factor for including field peas in swine diets is the inability of cropping systems including field peas to economically compete with the current corn-soybean rotation in Iowa. There may be times when swine producers can purchase field peas on the open market and formulate rations that are a lower cost than the standard corn-soybean meal diet.


    The typical Iowa swine farmer raises about 5000 head of hogs as well as corn and soybeans. In order to use soybeans as a protein source for the swine it is necessary to process the soybeans. Field peas have been grown successfully by farmers in other states and countries and used as a substitute for soybean meal. Inputs which require no processing, grown and used on the farm have generally improved farm profits. The feasibility of growing field peas in Southeast Iowa will be completed. Double cropped field peas will be evaluated for disease, insect susceptibility, yield and nutrition attributes and the economics compared to the standard corn-soybean rotation.

    Small scale Iowa State University (ISU) replicated research plots as well as field scale cooperator plots will be set up to evaluate variety selection, time of planting, harvesting techniques, and pest management of field peas. Feeding trials will evaluate the economical inclusion rates of field peas into swine rations. Economic evaluation based on net return per acre, comparing field peas in a double-crop production system compared to the control which for this study is the current corn/soybean rotation with the purchase of soybean meal from off farm commercial sources. The second part of the evaluation will be the economic return to the producer feeding field peas compared to the control. Evaluation will be based on performance of the swine comparing health, cost/lb of gain, average daily gain, and feed efficiency.

    Project objectives:

    In the short term, crop producers in Southeast Iowa will increase their knowledge of how field peas can fit into their crop rotational system, including information on variety selection, time of planting, harvesting techniques, and pest management. Pork producers will learn that field peas raised in the Midwest provide an excellent source of protein and energy for use in swine diets.

    Intermediate term outcomes will be an increase in the profitability of crop and swine producers. Profits will also become more sustainable by introducing two new crops into the rotation. At current prices, the net profit from the wheat/field pea crop has the potential to be more than the net profit provided by either corn or soybeans. Swine producers will have an alternative protein/energy source for swine diets if soybean meal costs become prohibitive due to increased soybean pest problems, including soybean rust. Unlike soybeans, field peas do not have to be processed, so pork producers could grow and feed peas without them ever leaving the farm.

    A long term outcome will be the widespread adoption of the new cropping system and the use of peas in swine rations throughout the Midwest, increasing the sustainability of agriculture.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.